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Going beyond the buzzwords and understanding the benefits
The technology industry is frequently criticised for using way too much jargon. Too many buzzwords and exotic technobabble which IT professionals understand, but often confuses customers.
That’s certainly the case when it comes to cloud computing. It used to mean simply using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer. But, these days there are so many varieties, it’s hard to keep up.
One of the latest labels is multi-cloud. And, since Gartner is predicting that by 2020, 75% of organizations will have deployed a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud model, it’s worth discussing what it means, and how businesses can use it to offer services, drive revenue and accelerate their business growth.
A quick Google search reveals defines multi-cloud computing as when an enterprise uses more than a single public cloud. Of course, that begs the question is why should you bother?
For many companies, the answer is because they want to avoid being dependent on a single public cloud provider. That’s important, because not all cloud service providers are created equal, or remain at the top of their game over time.
A multi-cloud approach also enables a business to choose the best services from different providers, so they get exactly what they need, without having to accept any compromises. Think pick-and-mix rather than bargain bundle. In some ways it’s a ticket to the best of all possible clouds.
What about hybrid cloud?
The next question is exactly how is multi- different from hybrid cloud? Well, in some ways, it isn’t, but in others it is. That’s because a hybrid cloud refers to the pairing of a private cloud – perhaps running on services in an in-house data centre – and a public cloud platform.
If you use multiple public clouds with a private cloud, it’s still strictly speaking a multi-cloud. Although, if you want to be pedantic, you could call that approach a “hybrid multi-cloud.”
All clear? Good. Because the next thing we need to talk about is how to actually use multi-cloud.
The thing is, multi-cloud isn’t a single unique solution you can purchase from this or that vendor. It’s really a strategy, where companies buy the best fit from each vendor.
In practice that could mean a company using the Cloud Foundry in the SAP Cloud Platform (SAP CP) SAP-CP Cloud Foundry to deploy its NodeJS application using SAP HANA as a big data processor, crunching the numbers, finding data patterns and predicting tendencies using machine learning.
But at the same time, it will use another specific service provided by another cloud PaaS or IaaS player that could add value to the overall solution.
The reasons for doing so may vary, from the inability to meet all of its requirements in a single PaaS, or perhaps to make apps more resilient. But ultimately, it all boils down to one thing – using both clouds at the same time to make up a single solution.
How about hybrid?
A lot of people will still be thinking, that still sounds like a hybrid-cloud. So, why do we need a new term?
I mean, if you have a cloud application running on a PaaS (hopefully SAP -Cloud Platform) and this application connected to S/4HANA running on HEC (HANA Enterprise Cloud) using SAP Cloud Connector. There you have it, multiple cloud solutions – no need for another piece of jargon.
The simple answer is that the term hybrid is also valid for multi-cloud. All multi-cloud based solutions do use a hybrid cloud approach. However, not all use-cases of hybrid are multi-cloud.
The SAP S/44/HANA example above is a perfectly good example of what isn’t considered a multi-cloud solution. What makes multi-cloud a strategy successful is the ability to move the pieces of the puzzle around – from vendor to vendor – without disrupting the overall solution.
If you were to move you NodeJS app it might be feasible, however to move an SAP S/4/HANA from HEC to a different cloud provider might not be as easy.
Multi-cloud means flexibility
In the final analysis, multi-cloud is really all about flexibility. In practice, that might mean enabling enterprises to simply move a piece of their solution to SAP -Cloud Platform, as and when circumstances change.